“Space Jam: A New Legacy” (Warner Bros.)

Lebron James and Bugs Bunny star in a scene from the animated and live-action movie "Space Jam: A New Legacy." The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. (CNS/Warner Bros. Pictures)

By Catholic News Service

Strained sequel to the 1996 sports comedy once again blends live action and animation as well as basketball and the Looney Tunes gang of cartoon characters. This time out, LeBron James plays himself, as Michael Jordan did in the original, while Don Cheadle portrays the artificial intelligence that controls the Warner Studios’ “server-verse.” Resentful at a rebuff from James, the anthropomorphized algorithm concocts a scheme to absorb both the hoops star and his young son (Cedric Joe) into the virtual realm he rules and exploit a temporary rift between the two to pit them against each other on the court, with James leading Bugs Bunny (voice of Jeff Bergman) and his friends while the lad heads a far more formidable squad.

Worthy, though obvious, messages about teamwork, altruism, good parenting and the need to give youngsters the freedom to pursue their own goals are ham-handedly driven home amid frantic but harmless mayhem. A few unsuitable words in the script, credited to fully half a dozen screenwriters, make director Malcolm D. Lee’s annoyingly self-referential film unfit for the little kids who might be oblivious to its obvious flaws and thus most likely to enjoy it.

Cartoonish violence, a few mild oaths. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

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